Alice’s Angle: December

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Photo by Louis Cahill

By: Alice Tesar

December, the mountain slopes are open to skiers and the rivers are practically void of anglers.

Not only is hitting the river an excuse to escape holiday guests but it can also be quite productive if you’re willing to endure the cold factor. If you know me, you know I’m a nymphing fool. Streamers and dries are exciting but mastering a nymph rig that catches trout with each presentation feels invincible. Most mountain town rivers are running low and uberclear right now. Furthermore, blue skies and snowy banks make your shadow and own presence on the water louder than ever. To avoid spooking more fish I recommend wearing muted colors and limiting your false casts, I even let my drifts go longer in an effort to slow down my above water activity.

Regardless of spooking easily, the trout is at its laziest in cold water. They are lethargic and prefer to place themselves where currents are easy, and the conveyor belt of tiny bites is steady. Midges are my constant this time of year- black beauties, mercury midges, and a biot midge if you find the trout feeding closer to the surface. Darker colors over bright and flashy. Pair the midge with a black or dark brown stonefly. A small stonefly, 16 or 14, seems to work better than something larger.

My final tip, that I repeat often is: change your depth before you change your fly.

Add enough weight to find the bottom of the river you’re fishing and work up the water column by removing weight until you find where trout are eating. In addition, it is crucial this time of year to set the hook at the smallest pause of your indicator. As I’ve already mentioned, the trout are slow right now, so they aren’t ‘lunging’ for midges but rather sipping from the train of food passing by that your imitation is mixed up in.

 Enjoy the cold weather, avoid the crowds at the slopes, and catch some trout.


Alice Tesar
Alice guides for Steamboat Flyfisher in Steamboat Springs CO.
Gink & Gasoline
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